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Myanmar plots democratic transition

December 2, 2015

Former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi - whose party won recent elections - holds meetings with the country's outgoing leadership. The former military rulers are losing their grip on civilian government.

Myanmar Parlamentswahl Sieg Aung San Suu Kyi
Image: picture-alliance/Kyodo

Suu Kyi held talks with President Thein Sein Wednesday in the first of two key meetings as her election-winning party prepares to take power in a country that for decades was ruled by a military junta.

The Nobel laureate's National League for Democracy (NLD) swept the November 8 election with nearly 80 percent of the vote and is due to take office early next year. Her reformist party trounced the ruling military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.

But crucial to a smooth debut in government would be workable ties with the military itself, which still retains considerable power and influence in the country.

Myanmar Proteste Armee Intervention Archivbild August 1988
In 1988, a popular uprising against military rule was brutally repressedImage: ullstein bild-Heritage Images/Alain Evrard

Distrust lingers over military's intent

Memories are still fresh from the 1990 election when the NLD won a similar landslide only to see the military annul the result and rule by force for another two decades.

Min Aung Hlaing, the head of the military that runs the interior, defense and border affairs ministries under a constitution drafted before the end of its half-century rule, is also set to receive Suu Kyi later Wednesday.

Suu Kyi, 70, says she wants to work with the military but has been clear about wanting to amend the constitution, including a clause that bars her from becoming president because her two children are foreign nationals.

It's unclear whether the NLD plans to proceed cautiously once it takes office or risk launching a political offensive against the political role of the military. The armed forces automatically control a quarter of legislative seats under the constitution. That amounts to holding a veto on changing the charter.

Already both Thein Sein and Min Aung Hlaing have recognized the election result and offered public support in ensuring a smooth transition to the new government between February and April next year.

jar/gsw (Reuters, dpa, AFP)